Saturday, 11 February 2012

Practising Addition Facts

Having taught Year 4 for the past few years, I know that parents and students are aware that students need to "learn their tables". The problem is, the focus on needing to know multiplication facts outweighs the focus on addition and subtraction facts which are just as important.

It is vitally important that children can recall basic addition and subtraction facts quickly and accurately. This only happens with practice. We are revising and practising addition facts in class this term but there is only a limited amount of time in the school day and in order to become proficient at addition and subtraction facts, most students need a lot more opportunity to practise.

The Australian Curriculum identifies four proficiency strands in Mathematics. One of these is "fluency". Fluency is the efficient recall of basic facts and concepts, and this certainly includes addition facts.

It is important that children understand the importance of knowing these facts so they will be willing to put in the effort required, but it also helps to provide some suggestions for fun and/ or simple strategies for practising basic facts.

There are many cheap/free apps available for iPhones/ iPads/ iPod Touch, as well as some fantastic websites that you can access for free.
The aim is for speed of recall so look for a game that doesn't have too much "story" that takes away from the practice of facts. Some games take so long between questions and allow an unlimited time so there is no sense of urgency to come up with an answer in a reasonable time and the child could play the game for twenty minutes and only answer a handful of problems. This is unlikely to produce efficient recall of facts.

The Math Training DS app is a good game that will intuitively adapt to the level of your student and set achievable goals for them to reach. There is a you tube introduction here.
The game is relatively expensive (compared to an app or free website) but it will grow with your child and goes well beyond the expected level for Year 2. It suits children who are competitive against themselves because it works on setting personal bests then trying to outdo them.
It gives good feedback about your child's progress but it is fairly simple and not at all glitzy, so children who only like bright colours and fun storylines in a game might be uninterested.

Of course, the time that you are able to spend with your child practising facts is incredibly beneficial too. Playing good old-fashioned board games like Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders provide many opportunities for children to practise adding. Two dice games are best because as they roll the dice over and over, they get quicker at recognising the dot patterns (this is called subatising) and adding to find the total.

Asking your child five quick facts in the morning during breakfast, in the car on the way home and while you are cooking dinner is great practice if you can make it a regular habit.

Playing cards are great for using to invent your own simple games that practise addition (and later subtraction and multiplication facts). For example, you could play a game similar to "Snap" in which the child has to say the total of the top card and the card they place down each time. If it makes a specified number (eg 10) then it is played as a "snap" and the fastest player to recognise that the total is 10, wins the cards.

How do you practise addition facts with your child?

No comments:

Post a Comment